How to Protect Yourself from Scams
According to UK Finance, £1.2 billion was lost to fraud last year. While slightly fewer scams occurred than the year before, it’s still the equivalent of £2,300 being lost per minute. Unfortunately, not all of the 3 million people who fell victim were reimbursed. With fraud being the most common form of crime in the UK, it’s important to protect yourself.
Despite the government looking at a national strategy to prevent scams, there are ways in which you can become more aware with any form of contact you receive. Banks must refund unauthorised fraud by law, but authorised scams aren’t covered. If you are tricked into sending money to fraudsters, you could end up losing it for good. Only 59% of authorised scams were refunded last year, so diligence is a top priority.
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) could make it trickier to detect scams, as correct punctuation, grammar and syntax could make any correspondence seem legitimate. Where you may have been able to spot errors in the past, this may not be possible in the future. Here are some easy tips to follow depending on how you’re contacted.
If you’ve had an email sent through that is asking for payment, there are a few things you can do to first make sure it’s genuine. First, check the email address it’s being sent from. Sometimes, this can be hidden behind a recognisable name. Long email addresses or those containing random letters and numbers are a red flag.
Sometimes, scammers don’t know your name either. They may refer to you by your email address or not name you personally. More sophisticated emails may have a proper email address and know your name. They could also pose as professional bodies or family members. If this is the case, see if the email content is suspicious, misspelt or requires action urgently.
Asking for money or requiring payment for delivery should make you think twice. If a family member or friend has a genuine issue, they will be able to talk about it over the phone. Likewise, call up a professional body to ask if the email you’ve received is genuine.
Text messages can have numbers that are masked to appear genuine. A sense of immediacy is always an indicator that something is amiss, especially if it’s requiring you to do something. The bottom line is, you should always be sceptical of texts. Any action that you need to do can be confirmed with a follow-up phone call.
This is slightly more tricky, as sometimes numbers can be withheld or made to look like professional bodies. Unless you’re expecting a phone call from anyone, it’s best to avoid it. Scammers will typically ask you to confirm your details, ask for payment or transfer money to an account.
Either treat every call with scepticism or don’t pick up numbers you don’t recognise. If something is genuinely important, they will leave a voicemail or send you an official letter in the post.
Indications of refunds, or needing to confirm them, should also be treated suspiciously. You should never be in a position where you have to confirm your details or provide bank accounts to receive these.
Romance fraud, where someone pretends to be romantically interested, should also set alarm bells ringing. If you’ve been talking to someone online and they ask you for money, it is most likely not genuine.